Live Voyage Review: Silver Spirit, Panama Canal 2013 – Part 6
…Catch up on Part 5: Hautulco, Mexico and Silversea Entertainment
Our first few dinners onboard Silver Spirit had been at La Terrazza with great company. You can never go wrong spending an evening with fascinating fellow passengers and executive crew – the ship’s captain and the food and beverage manager in our two cases. However, I must admit that the dinner food at this specialty restaurant didn’t thrill me. To be sure, it was very good, but it was not exceptional as I had expected. In fact, the pizzas served here at lunch and via room service are superior in my opinion.
So, when we made it elsewhere I didn’t quite know what to expect. We had enjoyed the pool grill for lunch but not yet for dinner until a few nights ago, and our experience there was much improved. The standard opener of bread was also paired with chips, salsa and guacamole – the same available as nachos during the day. Guacamole is often hit or miss on cruise ships, but Silversea’s is a great example.
Of course, the highlight at The Grill by night is the fish or beef entree that comes to your table raw but cooking on your very own lava rock fitted within a wooden cutting block. The al fresco experience lets you cook the meat to your preference and is truly a fun opportunity. If you feel up to it, you can get creative with the sauces or butter that accompany the plate to enhance the cooking. And the apple pie for dessert is a delicious conclusion to the evening.
Our culinary experience onboard continued to improve at the main dining room, simply titled The Restaurant. Here the creative courses are expertly plated and full of flavor. The food selection is also very impressive. I like it when I can sample rarer fare such as venison and goose. Additionally, the service here is more attentive than we found upstairs, perhaps because the main dining room has never been very full.
The Restaurant is just as excellent at lunchtime as it is for dinner. In fact, eating in the main dining room on sea days has always been a favorite of ours to avoid pool deck crowds. The experience is much quieter and more relaxing. Dinner dishes here have included a creative apricot-topped scallop appetizer, and the succulent goose was surprisingly a lunch offering.
We have also since enjoyed the unique Stars Supper Club, and have reservations this evening for the Asian-themed Seishin specialty restaurant and later on during the cruise for Le Champagne, the Relais & Chateaux restaurant onboard. We will be sure to apprise you of those culinary options in future reports.
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico
Our last stop in Mexico was at Puerto Chiapas, a growing cruise ship destination and home to another set of interesting historical ruins. Our particular tour included a stop at these Mayan ruins after we were treated to a chocolate making demonstration. The cacao tree and resulting fruit, the cocoa bean, have been staples of this area for centuries, and the chocolate tradition remains alive and well to this day.
Before our taste of the local chocolate, we stopped at a beautiful nearby church, whitewashed and trimmed in light blue paint. Also decorated in bunting and surrounded by colorful flowers in full bloom, the modest chapel was currently under a bit of construction as it was missing a patch of roof tiles. This actually let in a nice bit of natural light that better illuminated the interior.
When it comes to chocolate, I am a fan of darker varieties, so it was rather fascinating for me to try my first roasted cocoa bean. It was certainly bitter and needing a bit of sugar, but that dark flavor I love was there. After grinding the beans with sugar and cinnamon and packing it together into a patty, the result was much closer to a candy bar but far grainier. I suspect it was actually the cinnamon that gave this traditional recipe it’s very unique taste.
Our final destination on that very hot and muggy day was the Mayan archaeological site of Izapa which interestingly predates the grander and more famous Chichen-Itza. Here, however, is where it is believed that the Mayan calendar originated – the very focus of apocalyptic speculation during last year’s winter solstice on December 21, 2012. In fact, as you can imagine, Izapa was full of visitors on that exact day.
The site itself, or at least the visitable portion, takes up a very small footprint, and the structures are not very tall. Still, the area’s historical significance is unmistakable. It was the epicenter of cultural and religious importance during its time, and the ancients believed the site, sitting at a volcano’s base, was a source of large amounts of earthly energy.
Astrological studies were also conducted here, and the site’s ball court lines up perfectly with the sun’s rays on said winter solstices. I found it amusing to see more modern concrete structures, also seemingly abandoned, reaching above the ground just feet behind the ancient ones. The Mayan preoccupation with snakes was also apparent with many serpent carvings on display around the site. It was a fascinating half-day tour led by a passionate guide.
And the appreciative locals sent off our ship with a colorful celebration of song and dance just as they had welcomed us upon arrival.
Continue on to Part 7: Stars Supper Club, Galley Tour and The Panama Canal…